Whether you enjoy a stroll on a crisp autumn morning or a more relaxing promenade on a warm summer afternoon, walking is always a good way of discovering a place at your own pace. While some may prefer a more speedy adventure, taking to cycling instead, below are just 6 of the many walking paths that take you through Tervuren.
1. Royal Walk
Signalled by light green poles, the Royal Walk is a 7 km long path through the Geographical Arboretum.
The Geographic Arboretum sits like a crown on the head of the majestic Sonian Forest, on its north border. The arboretum was founded in 1902 on a property of King Leopold II and is today the most attractive public domain of the patrimony bequeathed by the king to the Belgian nation in 1903. More than a tree collection, this is a collection of forests, or forest types, more precisely. Countless trees and shrubs from the North, West and East of North America, from Central and Mediterranean Europe and from the Middle and Far East of Asia are grouped here by region of origin in some hundred sections, covering a total of 120 ha.
2. Africa Museum Promenade
The Royal Museum of Central Africa renamed the Africa Museum, has been standing in Tervuren for over a century. Having started as a colonial exhibition of King Leopold II, the museum has gone through major changes over the past years, reopening in 2018 after a 5-year renovation process aimed at decolonising the exhibitions.
Starting at the tombs of the seven Congolese who died during the “authentic African villages” exhibition organised for the World Expo in 1897, the short 1.5 km long Africa Museum Promenade strolls through the grandiose plans and French gardens the imposing neoclassical building overlooks, ending at the brand-new glass entrance to the museum.
3. Warande Walk
The 5.5 km long Warande Walk goes through Tervuren Park, allowing wonderers to discover not just its natural beauty, but also learn a few historical facts along the way.
Starting in the market square, the first stop en route is the church of Saint-John the Evangelist, dating back to 13th-14th century. The church was originally of the dukes of Brabant, some of whom are buried in the choir. Close by, the Baroque chapel of Saint-Hubert, built in 1617, sits in the courtyard of a former ducal castle that was demolished between 1782 and 1785. A local legend says the saint actually died in this very spot. A little before ending up at the Africa Museum and Africa Palace, the Spanish House, a 17th century former water mill, is the perfect place to admire the park and its ponds and enjoy a drink on the terrace, refreshing or warm, depending on the season.
4. Tervuren School Walk
By the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, many painters came to Tervuren inspired by the surrounding nature. The group of artists became known as ‘The Tervuren School’. Starting in the market square, the 3.5 km long Tervuren School Walk takes curious art lovers to the sites where Tervuren School painters once installed their easels.
The first stop along the way is the Presbytery, one of the favourites among the School. Dating back to 1616, a tall tulip tree adorns the charming garden of the building, making it that more paintable. Next on, the Robiano ponds, particularly frequented by Hippolyte Boulenger, create the basin of the Voer River, after which Tervuren gets its name. A little further down the path sits one of the most picturesque sunken roads, which inspired artists in all seasons, while the last stop is Saint-Hubert’s Chapel.
5. Brabant Forests Walking Network
If you prefer creating your own itinerary, the walking network of the Brabant forests consist of no less than 700 km of signposted trails that you can follow in whichever order you prefer.
Since the network is so vast, some older signposts might not be easily noticed anymore, particularly above the N3 (the road linking Tervuren and Leuven) and in the Sonian Forest, so make sure to have a map with you and follow it closely, or, if your cartography skills are a little rusty, download the free Wandelknooppunt app to guide your steps.
In a way, geocaching is the world’s largest treasure hunt game, except you do not always get to keep the treasure. A geocache comes in all forms and sizes, but it is always some sort of sealed, waterproof container. Inside, a logbook that the geocacher signs after finding it.
After signing the logbook to leave proof of your skills at finding the hidden treasure, you need to put it back in the same place you found it. Some containers may have small trinkets inside, little souvenirs from the discovery adventure, which you can take as long as you replace it with something else. You need to create an account on the website or mobile app and a phone, or other device, with GPS coordinates. Some caches are easier to find and all you need to do is follow the map directions, while others are a little more challenging to discover, sometimes requiring you to solve puzzles or riddles for clues.